Sandvik Pushes Collaboration, Education With New Facility

The design of Sandvik Coromant’s latest productivity center reflects a focus that’s far broader than just cutting tools. .

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This spacious, glass-enclosed machining area provides customers and partners with access to equipment ranging from the requisite lathes and machining centers to multitasking machines, all from a varied selection of leading builders.

Calling Sandvik Coromant a cutting tool supplier almost seems like a disservice after the opening of its latest productivity center in Fair Lawn, New Jersey last Thursday. Complete with a tour, dinner and a series of brief presentations, the event drove home the point that the company's role extends far beyond that. A quote attributed to Klas Forsström, company president, sums up Sandvik’s philosophy as such: “If we manufactured pens, we wouldn’t just be delivering pens. We’d also be teaching the art of writing.”

After two years of extensive renovation, the company’s Fair Lawn, New Jersey headquarters site certainly reflects that mission. Rising from—and, in large part, built from—the rubble of facilities that had been in place there for more than half a century, the new productivity center is designed for two purposes: to help customers engineer or re-engineer processes, and to provide training, whether for customers, channel partners, or the company’s own personnel. Either task requires focusing not just on the cutting tool, but on the entire process, from CAM programming to material and machinery selection to quality control.

These priorities are evidenced by more than just upgraded infrastructure and the wide variety of machinery, software and other technology at visitors’ disposal. As is the case with other productivity centers (the company will soon have six throughout the Americas), the design is characterized largely by open space, from well-manicured walking paths on the outside to the open-office layout, glass-enclosed machining areas, and multiple exterior windows on the inside. The resulting vibe of openness and transparency jibes well with the company’s stated goal of facilitating collaboration, whether internally or with outside partners and customers.

The sleek, modern look of the new facility might also help address outdated perceptions of manufacturing among the general public, for whom it may well serve as an introduction to the industry. Referencing the skilled labor shortage, personnel stated an intent to open up the new productivity center whenever possible to young people who might be interested in pursuing a manufacturing career. Upon touring this well-lit, clean, technologically sophisticated and highly computerized facility, such visitors would surely come away with a far different perception of our industry than the dark, dirty environs of the popular imagination.

All in all, a space to store and ship inventory and to perform basic testing might have sufficed if Sandvik Coromant were focused solely on providing quality cutting tools. However, the company has obviously decided that such a role wouldn’t be enough. Instead, it aims to act simultaneously as a full-blown engineering consultant, an educational institution, and an ambassador for the industry. These broader priorities for the new facility reflect the fact that modern manufacturers need more than just a supplier—they need a partner.

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